Pulitzer Prize winner's new piece premiering in C-U
New York Philharmonic principal trumpeter visiting to perform with UI group
URBANA — Phil Smith, the principal trumpeter for the New York Philharmonic, will perform as a soloist with the Illinois Wind Symphony on Tuesday evening in Urbana in the world premiere of a piece by Aaron Jay Kernis, a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer.
Two events with Smith and Kernis also will take place on the University of Illinois campus, sponsored by the University of Illinois Bands. Both are free and open to the public:
— Smith will give a master class at 7 p.m. Monday in the Harding Band Building, 1103 S. Sixth St., C, , with food and drink provided before and after the class.
— A question-and-answer session with Kernis will take place at noon Tuesday in the Krannert Room at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, again with light food and drink provided by the UI Bands Department.
— The concert featuring Smith and the Illinois Wind Symphony, conducted by Robert Rumbelow, will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Foellinger Great Hall at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Smith will perform Kernis' trumpet concerto, "a Voice, a Messenger," during the concert, which also will feature pieces by Dmitri Shostakovich and Morton Gould.
Tickets for the concert are $10 for adults, $7 for senior citizens and $4 for students.
— A free pre-concert lecture by Dale Pointon is set for 7 p.m. in the Krannert Room.
For the new composition, Kernis found his inspiration while attending Rosh Hashanah services, where he heard the shofar (ram's horn) and re-read passages from the Torah that place the shofar's sound in a spiritual context: "there was thunder and lightning and a dense cloud over the mountain; there was a loud Shofar blast, and all the people in the camp trembled. He manifested himself with the sound of the Shofar, the Lord amidst the sound of the Shofar."
The finale takes the two techniques used in playing the shofar as its starting point: tekiah — one long blast with a clear tone — and teruah — a rapid series of nine or more very short notes. The intention is for the trumpet to suggest the urgency of the Shofar's call, not to directly imitate its sound.
In 1983, the New York Philharmonic premiered "Dream of the Morning Sky" composed by Kernis, who was then 23. It resulted in national acclaim for Kernis and honors and commissions from a who's who of the world's leading musical institutions and artists, lasting for more than 30 years.
Kernis, winner of the 2002 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition and one of the youngest composers awarded the Pulitzer Prize, has taught composition at the Yale School of Music since 2003.
His music figures prominently on orchestral, chamber and recital programs worldwide, and he has been commissioned by many of America's foremost performing artists, including soprano Renee Fleming, violinists Joshua Bell and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, soprano Dawn Upshaw and guitarist Sharon Isbin, and by major institutions, among them the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Birmingham Bach Choir, the Minnesota Orchestra and the Los Angeles and St. Paul Chamber orchestras.
Recent recordings of Kernis pieces include a disc of his song cycles by soprano Susan Narucki (Koch label) and orchestral works by the Grant Park Festival Orchestra (Cedille).
Kernis received the Grawemeyer Award for the cello concerto "Colored Field" and the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for his String Quartet No. 2 ("musica instrumentalis"). He has also been awarded the Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rome Prize. He received Grammy nominations for "Air" and the Second Symphony.
Kernis is chairman and co-director of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, a program that gives young composers the opportunity to hear their works played by one of the world's great orchestras.
Smith was appointed principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic by Zubin Mehta in October 1978. His early training on the cornet was under the tutelage of his father, Derek Smith, himself a renowned cornet soloist.
Phil Smith is a graduate of the Juilliard School. While there, he was appointed to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Sir Georg Solti in January 1975.
Smith regularly appears as soloist, recitalist and clinician. He has performed as soloist with the Grammy Award-winning New York Philharmonic on numerous occasions and has appeared with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Edmonton Symphony, the Newfoundland Symphony and numerous U.S. orchestras.
He has performed with many symphonic wind ensembles, including The President's Own United States Marine Band, the West Point Band, the U.S. Coast Guard Band, the TRADOC Band, La Philharmonic des Vents des Quebec and many major university wind ensembles and community bands. A brass band enthusiast, he also has been guest soloist with numerous brass bands in the U.S. and abroad.
Smith has been on the faculty of the Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music.
For more information on this week's events, visit http://www.bands.illinois.edu.